Too many see a garden in only three dimensions. But there is so much more depth to how you can experience an outdoor space. From dimensions of time, smell and how your garden changes through the year.
These are all very important in garden design, but I want to talk a little today about a dimension that is often overlooked: the dimension of sound.
We are aware of sound, even when we are not aware that we are aware of it. It’s tongue-twisting, but it’s true! Sound forms a huge part of how our brains build a picture of their environment, and it has a tremendous effect on whether or not we feel relaxed and at ease in that space.
So, read on for my top 5 ways to add simple yet effective sounds to your garden.
We all know that the most tranquil scene in the world can be ruined by a jarring or irritating noise (no one wants to arrive at their holiday resort to find construction works going on).
Studies have even shown that we are less likely to be kind or helpful to others if there is a jarring sound in our environment!
It puts us on edge psychologically, and that’s not what we want when we are in our private home garden.
Now, we may not be able to control a lot of the external sounds that come into our garden, but we can create and add our own sounds to help us take control of the soundscape.
If you are lucky enough to start with a blank auditory canvas, that’s fantastic.
But if the sounds of traffic, railway lines, or commercial activities are already present, then all the more reason to make your own impact and help shape the audio environment of your garden.
Sound of stones
The first impact you can have on your garden’s sound is the sound of your own impact! Whether the crunch of gravel underfoot pleases your ears, the thud of wooden decking or paving stones, or the soft and quiet effect of bark chips – you can’t enter your garden without becoming a part of the soundscape yourself.
Water features are one of the most common and effective ways to bring sublime sounds into your garden.
Whether you’re looking for the totally serene feel of a babbling brook, or the more dynamic rushing of multiple waterfalls, the sound of water can have a calming power on any environment.
No doubt birdsong is already present in your garden, but you can easily increase this wonderful ambience by adding bird feeders and houses, as well as plants that attract our flying friends. Bees can also create a lovely, natural background hum, and are easy to attract with the right plants.
Here is a great list of some plants and what wildlife they attract.
The rustle of leaves is one of the loveliest pieces of the natural soundscape, and you can easily add to this aspect with a few well selected plants.
Bamboo works particularly well, with foliage that will rustle in a breeze, but with the added dynamic of the hollow knocking of the stalks when the wind picks up.
Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascene) is another that has seed heads that rattle beautifully in the wind, and there are plenty more.
Wonderful wind chimes
Wind chimes can make a distinct and beautiful addition to your garden sound design. With a range of tones coming from glass, ceramic, metal or wood, they’re an easy way to add real flavour to your audio experience. The creak of an old metal weather vane can bring fantastic character too.
So, there you have it. Five fantastic ways to add superb sound to your garden!